After a week of silence, Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar, People’s Action Party (PAP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Ang Mo Kio GRC, has finally responded to queries on her role in Chinese national Yang Yin’s permanent resident status.
Speaking to the press on Thursday, Dr Intan said she “does not know Yang personally” but had written a letter of appeal “regarding Mr Yang Yin’s application for permanent residency”, the Straits Times said.
Dr Intan had been queried, especially online and through emails sent to her more than a week ago, about whether she had endorsed Mr Yang’s PR application.
Mr Yang is at the centre of a legal battle over the control of the assets of 87-year old Chung Khin Chun, and is also being investigated by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) regarding how he had obtained his PR status.
It had emerged that Mr Yang had been active in the grassroots in Jalan Kayu, a precinct in Ang Mo Kio GRC which Dr Intan is responsible for.
On 8 September, Dr Intan was reported to have said that Mr Yang was “a grassroots leader and one of several leaders in Ang Mo Kio GRC helping foreigners integrate into society.”
However, about 9 days later on 17 September, the Straits Times made a correction to that report.
“What Dr Intan said was that Mr Yang was one of many grassroots leaders but he does not hold a key post,” the newspaper said.
Yesterday, the MP said that she had only met Mr Yang “at a cooking activity” previously.
On how she came to write that letter of appeal for Mr Yang’s PR application, Dr Intan said she did so only after she was approached by Mdm Chung in May 2011 on behalf of “her grandson.”
“This is what she told me,” Dr Intan said, apparently referring to Mdm Chung describing Mr Yang as her grandson, “and I referred Mdm Chung’s request to the authorities.”
Dr Intan said she obliged Mdm Chung’s request because Mdm Chung was “a resident of my constituency and a Singaporean.”
She said she would not have been able to help Mr Yang if he had approached her himself as he is “not a Singaporean.”
“What I would have told him is that you probably can apply for PR to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority directly," the MP said.
There were also questions asked by members of the public if she had been informed of doubts which Mr Yang’s neighbours had raised about his behaviour prior to the current saga becoming public.
Dr Intan said she had indeed receive “feedback” on Mr Yang’s behaviour. She said the “feedback”, which the MP did not detail, “was forwarded to the authorities on the same day.”
On yet another controversy which had resulted from her initial comments that Mr Yang was a “grassroots leader”, the MP explained that she had described him as such because she considers all grassroots volunteers as “grassroots leaders.”
This, however, seems to contradict what other communities understand.
Over at the Braddell Heights constituency website, for example, it defines a grassroots leader as:
“.... volunteers who have contributed to community work and have being [sic] nominated to office positions.”
It then says that “every GRO contains a list of office positions” which are:
- Vice Chairman
- Assistant Secretary
- Assistant Treasurer
- Assistant Auditor
- Executive Members
- Associate Members
The site also has a flowchart “for a volunteer to become nominated as a grassroots leader”:
It would thus seem that a “grassroots volunteer” is not the same as a “grassroots leader.”
There are a reported 30,000 grassroots leaders with the People’s Association in some 1,800 grassroots organisations.
It is unclear then if this means that there are only 17 grassroots volunteers with each organisation, if “grassroots leaders” are actually just “grassroots volunteers” and are one and the same, as Dr Intan seems to be saying.
While Mr Yang was later discovered to have been a member of the Integration and Naturalisation Champions (INC) committee in Jalan Kayu, Dr Intan said on Thursday that Mr Yang “was just an ordinary member" of the grassroots.
She had earlier also said that Mr Yang “did not hold a key position” there.
As for whether she had gone into “Internet hiding” for her silence in the face of criticisms, Dr Intan told the press yesterday that she does not know what this means.
Nonetheless, when asked if comments on her Facebook page have been deleted, she said “the staff administering the site may have done so”, according to the Straits Times.
Dr Intan’s Facebook page had been flooded with criticisms and queries the past week and seems to be inaccessible presently.